For the first time, Salisbury Cathedral Treasures are on display. The items include a set of mid-13th century household accounts that extend 19ft, a letter from the Pope permitting the Cathedral move and a sample of medieval fundraising through prayer.
Originally planned to celebrate Cathedral’s 800th birthday back in April, the exhibition was delayed. Among the items on display is a book from the scriptorium at Old Sarum. Written in the early 1100s, the book is just one of over 60 manuscripts that survive today and are held in the Cathedral Archive and Library
Emily Naish is the Cathedral Archivist who has put the exhibition together;
“The Cathedral’s anniversary year is a marvellous opportunity for us to display some of the greatest treasures from our collections – one of which, the book written at the first Salisbury Cathedral at Old Sarum, is older than the building itself! These documents give us an insight into the life of our medieval ancestors who worked and worshipped here: forming a unique link between the past and the present.”
Exhibited alongside The Register of St Osmund and the Old Sarum book is an Indulgence issued by Archbishop Stephen Langton around the time building commenced on the Cathedral’s present site. It grants forgiveness for 30 days of sin to anyone who would contribute towards the cost of construction. Indulgences were a common way to raise funds in medieval times.
There is also a remarkable 19ft scroll shopping list that itemises food bought for the household of Robert de Cardeville, Salisbury Cathedral’s Canon Treasurer in the year 1256-1257. The huge list gives information about what each item cost and when it was to be eaten.
Current Canon Treasurer at Salisbury Cathedral commented on his predecessor’s groceries, Robert Titley, said:
“I suspect our supermarket receipts for a year, laid end to end, would be even longer then my namesake’s parchment. Train tickets, bike bits and (some) petrol have replaced the horse fodder, though I eat nearly ten kilos of oats a year myself. And we too enjoy the skills of someone called Colin – he helps us with the garden.”
The exhibition also features an animation created by Red Balloon Productions Bournemouth University. Watch the video below.